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Friday, February 23, 2007

Dwight McKissic Gets Moraned

Check out this recent article by Florida Baptist Witness executive editor, James Smith.

The Sandy Creek - Charleston Baptist Analogy

JACKSONVILLE (FBW)—The Sandy Creek-Charleston Baptists analogy invoked by Dwight McKissic in defense of wider latitude in Southern Baptist life for charismatic theology was first employed by a Baptist church historian in a lecture series that took place in the early days of the Conservative Resurgence—a movement that sought to return the SBC to conservative theology and which the historian opposed.

While McKissic speaks approvingly of the Conservative Resurgence which brought about the current leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, Walter Shurden delivered a two-part lecture in November 1980, offering a harsh critique of "inerrantists" who in ensuing years would successfully convince Southern Baptists change was needed in their denomination.

Shurden, professor of Christianity at Mercer University, was dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when he gave the Carver-Barnes Lectures at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The lectures were published in the April 1981 issue of the journal, Baptist History and Heritage, which was the source Leon McBeth relied upon in his historical analysis of the Sandy Creek and Charleston Baptists. McKissic rests his historical claims about these 18th century Baptists on McBeth's book, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness.

Both Shurden lectures criticize the then burgeoning Conservative Resurgence in the SBC which had by then only elected its first two conservative presidents of the denomination—Adrian Rogers (1979) and Bailey Smith (1980). The Resurgence ultimately saw the success of conservatives over moderates in a battle for control of the denomination that dominated the 1980s and part of the 1990s.

In the first lecture, "The Southern Baptist Synthesis: Is it Cracking?", Shurden discusses four traditions that made up the synthesis of modern-day Southern Baptists—the Sandy Creek and Charleston traditions—cited by McKissic in defense of latitude on differences of interpretation concerning spiritual gifts—and the Georgia and Tennessee traditions, arguing, "The synthesis of the Convention was missionary, not doctrinal, in nature." Shurden concludes that "togetherness" marked Southern Baptists as diverse and sometimes contradictory traditions came together in spite of their differences.

"That togetherness is a marvel to those of us on the inside and a mystery to those on the outside. And it is the togetherness, the diversity, the synthesis, which we must receive and confess and forgive. Above all, we must know it. Or there will be no hope for the denomination's future," Shurden said.

In the second lecture, "The Inerrancy Debate: A Comparative Study of Southern Baptist Controversies," Shurden compares the inerrancy debate that fueled the Conservative Resurgence to other doctrinal controversies throughout SBC history. Shurden said, "The unique thing and the most dangerous thing is that we now have for the first time in the Southern Baptist Convention a highly-organized, apparently well-funded, partisan political party who are going not only for the minds of the Southern Baptist people but for the machinery of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Shurden concluded, "Let us hope and let us pray that the Southern Baptist synthesis, so rich in diversity, so flawed by the likes of us sinners, so used by God despite its flaws, shall be sustained."

Guilt-by-association? What's the purpose of this article?

So Dwight McKissic isn't a *real* conservative because he cites a journal article by Leon McBeth who heavily relied on Shurden's lectures given 27 years ago?

That's asinine. The whole article is asinine.

Apparently, Florida has their own version of Roger Moran as well...

Waco does too.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

SBC Executive Committee and Ordained Predators

Bob Allen of the Baptist Center For Ethics has reported that members of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee have finally agreed to meet with SNAP to discuss the SBC's response to sexual abuse by clergy. SNAP which stands for "Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests and other Clergy" is a national support group for victims of clergy abuse.

Please watch the Video HERE.

Led by Christa Brown, an Austin attorney and survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a SBC minister, SNAP has attempted to meet with SBC President Frank Page and the Executive Committee for over 5 months.

In months past, Page pledged to "not ignore" SNAP's request for a denomination-wide program targeting sex abuse by Baptist clergy. At least one SBC "spokesperson" agrees that more scrutiny of persons involved in ministry is needed.

SNAP's proposed policies/suggestions are included below:
--Establishment of an independent review board as an auxiliary to the SBC, with adequate funding to receive and investigate reports of clergy abuse and arrive at a determination of whether they seem credible. All reports would be archived, and there would be a process for notifying a particular church whenever a report of abuse is made about a minister who worked in that church. For a model, they commended procedures adopted by the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

--After a review board is established, the SBC should publicize its existence through a toll-free number for reporting abuse and material to educate churches about sexual abuse and existence of the review board.

--Immediate adoption of a "zero tolerance" policy, under which a church is expelled from the SBC for hiring or retaining a minister credibly reported to have sexually abused a minor. The SBC already has a similar policy in place regarding churches that affirm homosexuals.

--Discourage the use of "secrecy contracts" to settle lawsuits over clergy sex abuse by offering victims assistance with counseling costs in exchange for pledging not to discuss their abuse with the media. Such a policy, the letter said, would "demonstrate a strong commitment to supporting those who reveal such abuse rather than the churches that strive to keep it secret."
Since September, EthicsDaily.com has published over 25 articles pertaining to SNAP and sex abuse by clergy. Clergy abuse is a hot topic covered by hundreds of religious journalists throughout the country. Unfortunately, I rarely read posts written on this topic by those in the Southern Baptist blogosphere.

We live in a world of Amber Alerts and Pedophile scandals. Two of NBC's most popular television shows are Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and Dateline's To Catch A Predator. A respected Congressman was caught having dirty online chats with 13 and 14 year old male page's. State legislature's across the country are trying to pass versions of Jessica's Law. The Roman Catholic Church is trying to recover from one heckuva sex abuse scandal. And one of the most well-known Southern Baptist churches was recently ROCKED with a revelation that would horrify any decent human being.

A conference on Baptist Identity is fine and dandy. But the Southern Baptist Convention desperately needs an on-going conversation concerning sex abuse by clergy. In the 50's and 60's, many Southern Baptists hid behind certain doctrines to avoid helping African-Americans in their struggle for Civil Rights. Hopefully, the Southern Baptist Convention will not hide behind Congregational Autonomy to avoid having this much needed discussion.

Sex abuse by clergy is an issue that Baptists of all stripes must address - bloggers included.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

North Carolina Congregation "Outs" Itself

According to the Biblical Recorder, Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte has notified the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina that the congregation is in violation of the BSC's new policies concerning homosexuality.

The deacons at Myers Park Baptist Church sent an open letter to BSC officers. The letter, dated Feb. 6, says the church welcomes gay and lesbian persons to participate fully in church life and serve as church leaders.

Messengers to the BSC meeting in November changed the BSC governing documents to reflect that churches that support homosexuality are no longer in "friendly cooperation" with the convention.

The letter notes that BSC procedures call for two complaints about a church before an investigation is started.

"The purpose of this letter is to inform you there is no need to wait upon the secret reports of others," the deacons wrote. "We, with our 1,850 members serving as witnesses, hereby turn ourselves in."

BSC officials declined to comment.

The letter invites BSC officials to visit the church and get to know the congregation this spring. It notes that the deacons "believe strongly in the gospel's power of transformation through experience."

"Please come join us in all facets of our church life, including our worship, Christian education, mission outreach and all of the other activities of our congregation," the letter says. "We welcome the opportunity for dialogue with you."

The letter acknowledges the BSC's authority as an autonomous group to determine its membership, but also notes that the BSC's Articles of Incorporation said the convention "is not set up to govern or exercise any authority over other Baptist bodies, but to assist churches in promoting missions, evangelism, education and social services."

The letter says that the Sanderson amendment's effect "is to govern interpretation of the Bible by majority vote."

"We hope that a Baptist Convention operating in the spirit of the Baptist principles of soul competence, soul freedom and local church autonomy would provide for a wider range of scriptural interpretation than your decision indicates," the letter says. "We are also concerned about what other differences of scriptural interpretation the Convention might use in the future to exclude North Carolina churches."

The letter says Myers Park has been a part of the BSC since the church's founding in 1943.

"We have happily contributed both our members and our financial resources to the purposes of the Convention," the letter says. "While we have not always been in agreement with you (nor you with us), our differences were guided by a mutual respect and a spirit of fellowship."

The deacons say in the letter that they recognize that both the church and the BSC are seeking to be faithful to God.

"We have a long and important relationship with North Carolina Baptists," it says. "While we are not eager to see ties broken, we reaffirm Christ's welcome to all persons and our commitment to being a healing witness in a world of divisions and a part of God's dream to make all things one."

Home to the late Southern Baptist Progressive Carlyle Marney, Myers Park Baptist Church has been at the forefront of the fight for social justice for nearly 50 years. Under the leadership of Marney, Myers Park hosted many interracial meetings between white and black Christian ministers during the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to their commitment to racial justice, Myers Park has lead the march against the death penalty. Despite Marney's passing many years ago, Myers Park has not backed down from its commitment to helping the oppressed.

It would be a shame if the Baptist State Convention chose to disfellowship such a prophetic congregation...

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